Corporations riddled with accounting scandals; government officials taking bribes and perverting judicial decisions; modern language corrupting to the lowest common denominator—signs of a society on its last legs?
An American president lies under oath. A U.S. senator resigns in disgrace. United Nations officials take away funding intended for hungry Iraqis. A major American automotive company ignores federal law and conducts business with an enemy state.
Corruption spans almost 6,000 years of civilization. Each humanly devised government has battled this scourge.
Corruption appears in more than one shape and flavor, and includes, as defined by the dictionary, (1) dishonest proceedings, moral perversion, depravity, (2) debase or alteration of language, and (3) a perversion of integrity.
Widespread dishonesty and deceit, compromised morality, and perverted, twisted language are all signs of a culture with its underpinnings about to give way.
Corruption in Government
A candidate for the 2008 U.S. presidential election promised he would, if elected, eliminate corruption in his administration with a paper clip. How? The paperclip would serve as a continual reminder to him and his staff of their moral responsibility toward the Oval Office. If a gift or some other benefit was offered, his staff would
be instructed to compare its value to that of the paperclip: If the gift’s value were greater, it must be refused.
While the candidate is probably sincere about his intention, would his innovative reminder prove to be effective? Not likely—and here’s why. Gifts have now come to be viewed as part of the “benefits package” for those holding office, a reasonable compensation for their services.
But such thinking is in itself corrupt! Unless payment has been specifically described as part of a compensation package, gifts of significant value are always a violation of the public trust. Designed to influence policy and business decisions, these can lead to lies that cover up the payoff and “spin” a politician’s position. A political leader accepting what is essentially a bribe for his support of a business venture, public works or policy dictate has succumbed to thievery, deceit and hypocrisy—in every case!
Preference given to one group as a result of gifts or payoffs is unfair to others who have an interest in the influenced policy, funding or law. Honesty and integrity can quickly become overwhelmed by graft and corruption if such exchanges become commonplace.
Dishonesty and fraud at the top eventually spread to lower levels. Few seem to any longer believe that character does matter! Not long ago, the American public debated the importance of this attribute, generally excusing the dishonorable conduct occurring in the White House at that time. Many defended the indefensible by dismissing the importance of personal conduct in the Oval Office. Corruption had reached such a high level that the “checks and balances” of self-policing written into the U.S. Constitution proved to be ineffective. The legislative branch became paralyzed and failed to act because of its own corruption and immoral behavior. In effect, each branch had the other blackmailed into inaction!
When corrupt practices are tolerated—even endorsed—truth and justice are lost. Government appears to become more of a circus, in which propaganda reigns supreme, than a serious institution.
Corrupt behavior causes an entire nation to become spiritually sick, from the highest levels of government to those charged with enforcing its laws. The book of Proverbs states, “Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (14:34). Is it any wonder a recent poll found that only three in ten Americans trust their elected government? While the level of corruption observed in Western nations is unprecedented, other governments have been even more corrupt.
It is said that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Common in history is the tyrant or dictator who carries absolute authority. Such use fear and intimidation to suppress, control or murder any who are critical of the self-glorifying leader.
God also compares the crooked and fraudulent culture of the West to a diseased and wounded body: “You will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it” (Isa.59 vs. 5-6). Rebellion against the true God leads to corruption, which spreads as a sickness from the leadership, or the “head,” of the nation, down to the weakest, “or sole of the foot.”
Corruption Leads to Injustice
Justice is another casualty of corruption. In most countries, unjust and incomprehensible decisions rendered by dishonest judges have led to a general distrust for the legal system. In the West, an increasing number of judicial
decisions are being made that have roots in political agendas. Sometimes, judges are even intimidated by those with a special interest in certain cases, resulting in the law being compromised and twisted.
Justice administered in the United States and the British Empire was once regarded as a beacon of hope and model for other nations. But today the obvious tolerance for corruption and criminal behavior brings only derision and contempt from friend and foe alike, especially as court proceedings are transmitted around the globe.
Each generation believes it has a better way than the one that preceded it. Each civilization has failed as its legal system became nothing more than a means for those with power to enforce their will and further their personal agenda over others. Even democracy is not immune—certainly, justice is one of the first of its pillars to crack.
Notice this powerful passage found in Isaiah 59 describing the worldwide corruption that exists today: “None calls for justice, nor any pleads for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief [evil] and bring forth iniquity…there is no judgment [justice] in their goings: they have made them crooked paths…Therefore is judgment far from us, neither does justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness…And judgment [justice] is turned away backward, and justice [righteousness] stands afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yes, truth fails; and he that departs from evil makes himself a prey: and the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no judgment [justice]” (vs. 4, 8-9, 14-15).
But God has a solution to the current system of dishonest practices found throughout the world.
A Corrupt Business Environment
Honest businessmen understand that established rules benefit everyone, and that one should not steal from his partners, for embezzlers are nothing more than corporate thieves. The Enron scandal demonstrated that business leaders do not
have the right to “cook the books.” Sadly, honest business practices that were once generally expected have given way to widespread corruption.
Publicity surrounding the Enron scandal has also shed light on the size of the salaries of many CEOs in the U.S. While a corporate leader of a successful company is entitled to fair compensation, salaries of senior level executives have become largely disproportionate to the benefit provided to employees and stockholders. There seems to be little accountability, as huge compensation packages are provided to CEOs by the boards of companies that are losing money, downsizing and going bankrupt! While it may be legal, it is obvious that human nature, greed, selfishness and corruption play a prominent role.
Other types of corruption are more subtle. Agreements made between developers and government officials often involve huge exchanges of private money for projects that may not be in the public’s best interest. For example, a municipality insists upon and accepts a new fire engine from a major corporation in exchange for a development being approved. The state then sets aside acreage for private land that will be used for the project. While these are considered legal, they are only a small step away from the shady payoffs common in other countries.
Corruption in business punishes honest men and women, and provides advantage—and wealth—to those willing to be the most dishonest and ruthless.
A Corrupt Media Machine
An independent and objective news media can sometimes correct and even prevent the abuses of the rich and powerful.
U.S. Business Scandals
Confidence in corporate America has been shaken by a series of accounting scandals:
Biggest bankruptcy filing in history (Chapter 11 protection from creditors); company admitted falsely accounting for $3.9 billion in expenses.
Energy company under investigation for its off-balance sheet partnerships, hiding debt and inflating earnings; it filed for bankruptcy.
Auditors destroyed important Enron documents; company convicted on obstruction of justice charge.
Former CEO charged with fraud.
Cable TV operator filed for bankruptcy; faces criminal investigation into its accounting.
Energy firm being investigated for a controversial project that lowered its tax liability and boosted its cash flow.
Telecommunications firm under investigation for inflating revenue.
Photocopy giant paid a $10 million fine for misstating four years’ worth of profits.
However, when the media becomes controlled and manipulated by political and commercial interests, it is reduced to a servant to corruption.
A popular American talk show host remarked that the major networks are no longer interested in truth, but rather work tirelessly to twist and spin news critical of certain leaders. Photos are carefully selected to manipulate and mislead the public. Words are chosen to infuse emotion into events, and to turn evil into good. He observed that the media “spin” always leans culturally toward amorality—and anyone who speaks out honestly in a moral tone, with any authority, is vilified.
A Corrupt Language
Several pages could be written describing the calculated corruption of language, which God predicted for the end time: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20).
The word “gay” was once associated with joy—but now refers to a lifestyle that God describes as “against nature” (Romans 1:24-27).
“Single Mom” has largely replaced the term “unwed mother” to remove any unpleasant stigma from children born without a father around.
“Migrant worker” has replaced “illegal alien” in an attempt to obscure the problem that neither political party can decisively fix.
In addition, popular music screams lyrics so reprehensible, they cannot be printed in this publication.
The perversion of modern language is so complete that most do not realize they have been deceived into accepting ideas that would have been unthinkable only a generation ago. The corruption of language and news media has contributed greatly to the mental drunkenness of the public-at-large. They have forgotten that words are what men live by.
The Corruption of the Family
The basic definition of the family unit—father, mother and children—has also been corrupted, with unmarried “domestic partners” and “civil union” couples now considered a family by many.
The most corrupt in society are the greatest antagonists of the only real family unit. They seek its complete redefinition, and by doing so its destruction. They fail to recognize that the destruction of the family also seals their nation’s fate, removes their protection and assures their destruction.
What Does the Future Hold?
These latter days have seen the surrender of morality and virtue. Lust, vanity, self-centeredness and greed have all cast their shadow over leaders throughout society.
Government officials accept money for their influence. Corrupt business practices are virtually unchecked. Corruption infiltrates the basic family unit and confuses men, women and children about their roles and purposes.
But why is this world filled with such corruption? Interestingly enough, the answer is found in the same chapter of Isaiah referenced earlier. Notice: “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (59:2). In a world cut off from a just, fair, righteous and loving God, widespread dishonesty and corruption result.
Yet there is hope.
Jesus Christ—the Being who came to the earth two millennia ago to provide a means for mankind to live eternally in His family with the Father—is soon returning to the earth! He will establish a pure language, eliminate corruption and institute justice based on God’s Law!
He is returning not as a human to die on a stake, but as an all-powerful LIVING KING! He is returning to smash all human governments and establish a divine, world-ruling government—the kingdom of God! (Daniel 7:13-14, 22, 27).
Notice: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isa. 9:6-7).
Only then will there be a government built on a solid and sustainable foundation. Only then will leaders govern in the best interests of their subjects. Only then will those deceived by illusions have their eyes opened.
Only then will corruption end!